The MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) algorithm for determining aerosol characteristics over ocean is performing with remarkable accuracy. A two-month data set of MODIS retrievals co-located with observations from the AErosol RObotic NETwork (AERONET) ground-based sunphotometer network provides the necessary validation. Spectral radiation measured by MODIS (in the range 550 - 2100 nm) is used to retrieve the aerosol optical thickness, effective particle radius and ratio between the submicron and micron size particles. MODIS-retrieved aerosol optical thickness at 660 nm and 870 nm fall within the expected uncertainty, with the ensemble average at 660 nm differing by only 2% from the AERONET observations and having virtually no offset. MODIS retrievals of aerosol effective radius agree with AERONET retrievals to within +/- 0.10 micrometers, while MODIS-derived ratios between large and small mode aerosol show definite correlation with ratios derived from AERONET data.